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Great Ormond Street tells nurses to work extra shift after pay error

  • 22 Comments

Hundreds of nurses and healthcare assistants at a world famous children’s hospital have been told they must each work an extra shift after they were accidentally paid for unworked hours.

Around 800 full-time nursing staff at Great Ormond Street Hospital for Children Foundation Trust have been ordered to work an additional six and a half hours between January and March.

“We are not attempting to claim back existing overpayments as we feel this would be unfair to our nurses”

GOSH

A rostering error, which has only just been discovered after a number of years, means staff have been paid for 30 minutes per month that they have not actually worked. The trust claims it is costing it around £85,000 each year.

Trust chief nurse Liz Morgan wrote to staff last month explaining the discovery of the error and that it must be rectified by staff either working the additional shift at specified times or having the equivalent number of hours deducted from their annual leave allowance.

Nursing staff who work full time at the hospital are rostered for 13 shifts every month that last 11.5 hours each, equating to 149.5 hours worked for every four weeks. However, the trust discovered that it had been paying nurses for 150 hours, as per their contracts. The difference is equivalent to six and a half hours hours of overpayment each year.

Ms Morgan said in her letter that staff would have to work the hours between January and March because this was the period when the trust faced the greatest pressure on beds and a high demand for temporary staff.

The Royal College of Nursing has called on the trust to withdraw what it described as an “unreasonable” proposal, claiming the error is the fault of the trust’s management team and should not be fixed by staff. It said that if the plans were to go ahead, it would cause “significant damage” to morale at the trust, which would have knock on effects for patients.

RCN London operational manager Sue Tarr said: “It should be down to the management to ensure safe staffing levels within budget, as well as having a roster that reflects the hours people actually work.”

“This is a management error and it should not be down to individual staff members to fix it”

Sue Tarr

“This is a management error and it should not be down to individual staff members to fix it,” she added.

A spokeswoman for the trust told Nursing Times: “Our nurses work extremely hard and we are in no way suggesting they should work for free. We are simply ensuring that nurses are paid for the hours they have agreed to work.”

“We are not attempting to claim back existing overpayments as we feel this would be unfair to our nurses. However, this is about parity and ensuring that all our nursing and clinical staff are clear about the hours they are contracted to work and are paid accordingly,” she added.

The spokeswoman said that the discrepancy had “crept in over a number of years as a consequence of shift changes”. She said that from April rosters would be adjusted so the six and a half hours could be incorporated more evenly across shifts.

The trust spokeswoman also claimed that the majority of affected nurses had been “very understanding” about the need to make up the missing hours.

But Ms Tarr highlighted results from the 2013 NHS Staff Survey, which showed that 66% of Great Ormond Street staff worked unpaid overtime every week.

“All NHS employers rely on the commitment and hard work of their staff to keep the system going and for Great Ormond Street to put that goodwill at risk for the sake of 30 minutes s a month seems misguided at best,” she added. 

  • 22 Comments

Readers' comments (22)

  • Dear Liz Morgan,

    Suck it up. Accept that this is a management screw up. Accept that your auditors aren't much cop, as they didn't spot it. Slap the wrists of those who wrote the rostering system, signed it off and implemented it and your auditors while you are at it.

    Change the rostering system.

    And let it drop.

    OK?

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  • Surely all the extra hours that nurses work that are unaccounted for such as not taking breaks or leaving late should be taken into account.

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  • If nurses were to claim for their shortened or missed meal breaks and for working past the end of the shift to complete work I suggest that within 2 or 3 weeks the Trust would be needing to pay out more than the 6 1/2 hours it is trying to claim back. The system survives on unclaimed discretionary time that nurses put in. It would be foolish for the Trust to be churlish about this. Be careful what you wish for........

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  • "However, this is about parity and ensuring that all our nursing and clinical staff are clear about the hours they are contracted to work and are paid accordingly,”

    Let's be clear then, you are NOT paid to stay beyond your shift or miss breaks and your goodwill means nothing. I wonder how the hospital will survive on a work to rule if the staff worked to the letter of their contract from January to March. Wrong move Liz Morgan.

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  • Dear everyone, This amounts to ten minutes "unpaid" per shift over a three month period.
    If this is your biggest problem.......

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  • Right staff at Great Ormond Street time for you all to work to rule I think?!

    Does Ms Morgan truly not grasp the concept that in fact this trust (like every Trust) probably owes their staff thousands of pounds in unpaid overtime?? Honestly the arrogance is astounding!

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  • The trust have made an error and should not then enforce staff to rectify it. Own the mistake, ensure it is corrected and move on without trying to reclaim so called 'overpaid' money.

    As previously pointed out, many staff work unpaid overtime, miss out on refreshment breaks etc. so in the spirit of goodwill and for staff morale, write it off.

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  • Every minute that any nurse at GOS now works over there shift or through a break should be documented signed off by the nurse in charge and submitted to Liz Morgan with a copy of her letter.

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  • If nurses are paid for every hour at the end of a shift when they stayed to comfort a sick child or bereaved relative or to provide moral support to a colleague, it would be more like 6½ hours extra pay each month, not each year.

    The first response says it all: “Suck it up. Accept that this is a management screw up.” Be thankful that you have not had to pay for all those hours of goodwill.

    Shame on you Liz Morgan you should be advocating on behalf of your nurses not telling them that the management error must be rectified by staff. This is an appalling move on your part. J. M. Barrie will be turning in his grave!

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  • Awful maybe but I've given up fighting and I would choose to take a week sick! I'm sure I'm not the only one who thinks in this way. Shame on GOS chief ****** nurse.

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